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Baltimore County News

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Date: Feb 2019

All three major ratings agencies affirmed Baltimore County’s creditworthiness despite fiscal challenges

County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced today that Baltimore County has retained its triple-A bond rating from all three major rating agencies, allowing the county to continue to issue bonds at the lowest possible interest rate, saving millions of dollars for Baltimore County taxpayers. Moody’s Investor Service, Fitch Ratings, and S&P Global Ratings have each affirmed the county’s triple-A rating, making Baltimore County one of only 45 counties nationwide to receive the highest rating from all three agencies.

“Our county’s strong and diverse economy allows us to maintain the coveted triple-A rating, which is good news for taxpayers and for our ability to continue to borrow at the lowest possible rate for critical capital projects like school construction and infrastructure,” Olszewski said. “The agencies all acknowledged that, while we are facing fiscal challenges, we are taking important steps to address them.”

“Maintaining Baltimore County’s creditworthiness is critical for ensuring we can continue to borrow the capital dollars we need at a low cost to taxpayers,” said County Council Chairman Tom Quirk. “I look forward to working with the County Executive and my colleagues on the council to ensure we can continue to maintain our triple-A ratings.”

In their reports, the agencies noted Baltimore County’s strong economy and diverse tax base. However, all three also noted the county’s impending budgetary gaps, and Moody’s gave the county a negative outlook, noting the mounting challenges and additional capital needs in the coming years.

Since taking office in December, Olszewski has taken a number of steps to share information about the county’s fiscal challenges and to address the $81 million deficit projected for the coming fiscal year.

On his first day in office, Olszewski signed an executive order to create the Commission on Fiscal Sustainability, tasked with taking a top to bottom look at the county’s budget and fiscal management practices, and making recommendations for how to improve the budgeting process and make it more transparent. In addition, Olszewski has held a series of town hall meetings to share information about the impending budget deficit with county residents, and to hear their thoughts and concerns about how the county should prioritize its spending. The final town hall meeting is scheduled for next week. He has also announced plans to conduct a comprehensive performance audit in order to ensure the county’s taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.

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by Tammy Price, Chief, Baltimore County 911 Center

911 has been featured in television shows (Rescue 911, and 9-1-1) and movies (Operator and The Call) so you may be pretty familiar with the profession, but there are some things you may not know about your local Baltimore County 911 Center. 

Did you know? 

We are only 39 years old!  It seems like 911 has always been around, but The Baltimore County 911 Center has only been in operation since January 15, 1980.  In fact, the very first 911 call was made a mere 12 years before -- in Alabama on February 16, 1968.   

We’re the 3rd largest 911 center in Maryland! As such, we handle over 800,000 calls for service each year – that’s an average of about 2,200 calls per day.   

We are a civilian organization.  While we work in conjunction with the Police and Fire Departments, we are a separate agency. 

We have over 200 employees. Our dedicated men and women are the FIRST of the first responders.     

Answering our questions doesn’t delay help. The location of the emergency is the most important piece of information you can give us.  Once we have the location, we will dispatch the call and then ask the rest of our questions while help is on the way. 

Our non-emergency number is 410-887-2222.  This is a 24 hour number that you can use to report non-emergency situations in Baltimore County.   

Young children call 911 too!  Early education is key, so we attend community events and teach an elementary education program to help young children learn about 911. 

In our profession, we are known as telecommunicators. However, each 911 Center’s job title may vary. In Baltimore County, our calltakers and dispatchers are called Emergency Communications Technicians (ECTs). 

National Telecommunicators Week celebrates our calltakers and dispatchers.  Each year, a week in April is designated as National Telecommunicators Week to recognize the work our men and women do.  Just as the police and fire departments have the thin blue and red lines, our profession is identified by the Thin Gold Line.  
 


Executive halts police department use of sexual assault confidential release authorizations; charges task force to review and offer recommendations
 

Towson-- County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. today announced the formation of a Sexual Assault Investigations Task Force. The task force will examine current investigation and prosecution policies, practices, and training related to sexual assault complaints, including review of past casefiles. Earlier this month, the County Executive asked the police department to discontinue the use of sexual assault confidential release authorizations.
 
The task force consists of a diverse array of talented and knowledgeable individuals who understand the sensitivity and complexities of sexual assault investigations.
 
“Residents of Baltimore County have the right to feel safe in their community. Our residents deserve to know that, when they are the victim of sexual assault, law enforcement will respond with all of the resources at their disposal to bring justice. Too often in the past, this hasn’t always been the case,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. “I was disappointed when I heard about the excessive use of Confidential Release Authorizations and I immediately asked Chief Terry Sheridan to suspend this practice.”

The scope of their review will include the following:
 
Examine current investigation and prosecution policies, practices, and training related to sexual assault complaints, including review of past case files.
 
Review training for law enforcement officials involved in the response to sexual assault allegations, ensuring investigations are victim-centered and trauma-informed.
 
Review data related to sexual assault investigations, ensuring proper tracking and accountability mechanisms are in place.
 
Assess resources available for investigating sexual assault complaints and testing old and new rape kits, and make adjustments as necessary.
 
Research and recommending implementation of national best practices, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police Trauma Informed Sexual Assault Investigation Training, which provides law enforcement and multi-disciplinary partners with information on the neurobiology of trauma and investigative strategies to respond to sexual assault crimes in a victim-centered, trauma-informed manner.
 
The County has also partnered with Baltimore County’s rape crisis center, TurnAround, to promote their helpline which is staffed by trained advocates and available to survivors 24/7. The helpline is available to anyone that would like to speak to someone about sexual assault, get advice on reporting an incident, request services, or speak to someone about a previously reported case. Advocates can be reached at 443-279-0379.
 
“We are delighted that County Executive Johnny Olszewski took decisive action when confronted with this practice,” said CEO of TurnAround Rosalyn Branson. “I am pleased to assist in establishing best practices for survivors of sexual assault.”
 
The task force members are:
 
•         Sheryl Goldstein, the Vice President of the Abell Foundation, who will chair the task force.
 
•         David Thomas, a Program Manager with the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
 
•         Rosalyn Branson, the CEO of TurnAround.
 
•         Laura Clary, a Program Manager, at GBMC for the sexual assault forensic exam or SAFE Program.
 
•         John Cox, the Deputy State's Attorney from the Baltimore County State's Attorney’s Office.
 
•         Lt. Brian Edwards, Commander of the Baltimore County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit.
 
•         Nadia BenAissa, a student at UMBC/We Believe You.
 
“I was honored to chair the public safety portion of the County Executive’s transition team,” said Vice President of the Abell Foundation Sheryl Goldstein. “I am pleased to be part of this task force working to improve systems for handling sexual assault cases and improving outcomes for victims.”

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Revised September 11, 2017